The Threat of Invasive Plants

Oriental Bittersweet Photo by James R. Allison, Georgia Department of Natural Resources,

Throughout the world and here at home, non-native exotic plant species enter our natural environment and threaten local plants, and wildlife. Biologists here in NH, are cautioning residents and landowners to take action with invasive plants.

The State of New Hampshire Invasive Species Committee advises NH residents to learn more about non-native plants, on both land and water in order to protect the health of native species, the environment, and commercial and recreational interests.

Many of these plants were brought here and introduced as popular landscape elements, or utilized for erosion control.  But they are now known to be a threat to our natural environment, because they produce so many offspring, are early and rapid growers, and they are adaptable to a wider range of environmental conditions, which suppress the ability of local native plantings to thrive.

The introduction of non-native plants poses a threat to our environment by reducing native plant and animal diversity.  Many exotic plants have no natural enemies to keep them in check and they are able to out-compete for food and water, gradually displacing native plants.  Our property values, and ultimately our water quality can be affected, because non-native plants reduce the number of plant and animal species on any site they invade, forever changing the local ecosystem.

As a Derry resident, you can make a difference!  Learn to identify Non-Native Plants, and know how to tell them apart from native species.  Control the spread of exotics on your property, and before you undertake a landscaping project, ask your garden center or landscaper if the can suggest native plants for use in your landscape design.

Derry residents should be especially aware, that we have concentrations of Oriental Bittersweet, Purple Loosestrife, and Japanese Knotweed.  The NH Department of Agriculture has published guidelines that explain disposal techniques.  In most cases, cut and bag  (seal in a plastic garbage bag) and repeat as necessary, to insure the plant does not grow back may be the best way to eradicate an invasive. Never cut invasives and add them to a compost pile, new plantings will start where ever the compost ends up.

Look for more detailed information over the next couple of weeks for ideas on how to control invasive species, and protect native plants, and habitats.

Any questions regarding land based non-native plants, may be directed to: Doug Cygan the Invasive Species Coordinator, at the NH Department of Agriculture, at 271-3488, or visit the NH Dept. of Agriculture website, or to see more photographs of non-native plants.